I have only one more day of driving before I hang up my school bus keys for the summer. Last year, I was as excited and delighted as I am now. But last year, after I backed my bus into its parking spot and turned off the ignition, I started to cry. Not because I was unhappy about leaving, but because I suddenly realized driving my bus was helping me stay connected to someone I lost the year before.
This year however, I have a lot to look forward to since I’ll be travelling even further than I did last year when I went to Mississippi and Tennessee, where I did research for the book I’m writing, a follow up to my memoir Rude Awakening. This year I am flying to Europe to visit my son in Darmstadt, a city just south of Frankfurt. From there we are heading north to a quaint little town called Celle, where we will visit his wife’s mother, one of the loveliest women I’ve ever met.
I also intend to visit two of my favorite sites - Heidelberg and Lichtenstein. Whenever we’ve gone to Heidelberg in the past, we’ve parked the car and gone down a whole lot of steps, actually descending into the city. Last time we went, we had lunch in a tavern under a great big stained-glass dome that looked and felt like sitting beneath a Tiffany lamp. In Lichtenstein, which is located at the top of a mountain, there is a beautiful old museum and a café from which you can look down and see the cars - which look like ants - as they move along the country road below.
Then, while my son returns to work, my daughter and I will be travelling to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre, to walk along the Seine and to drink coffee on the Champs Elysees – a place I’ve read and dreamed about since I was a child. I am so excited.
Then it’s back to the airport in Frankfurt, where I’ve the feeling I’ll be shedding more tears before I return to my bus once again in September.